Friday, 21 August 2015



It does seem that we spend rather a lot of our lives waiting.......

I had always thought of waiting time as time spent being bored, frustrated, a waste of time; that was until recently when I was waiting for a shower at a festival waiting in a queue. A fellow waiter was talking of the amazing conversation and experience that can come out of waiting.

'The best things come to those who wait'.

It occurred to me that waiting can indeed be a frustrating and boring time but it can also be a time where we step back and look in, a time for contemplation.

I bought this beautiful rose earlier this year. The early buds died whilst waiting for me to plant the little darling so I was thrilled to take note of this perfect bloom earlier this week.

For the past ten days I have been waiting patiently whilst my Dad has been working away trying to fix my broken car. No car, has meant a complete change of the usual routine. Apart from on foot, via bike and three very short trips out offered by willing friends, I haven't been able to get out of the village (off the island). Being marooned on the island could have driven me to insanity; and at times I guess I've been close; my children have certainly complained more than usual. I've tried very hard to embrace the moment and use my time wisely. Luckily I've not had any commitments to uphold so the pressure of that has not been upon me.
Waiting has actually been rather exciting! Who will rescue our souls today? What wonderful adventures will occur whilst we remain in the same spot?
Friends have been to visit us....24 to be exact graced our home surroundings on Tuesday all bringing surprising and delicious food to cook and share :-)
On other days, lovely people have popped in for the morning or afternoon others to drop off provisions and work. Never a dull moment!

I've pretty much finished decorating the girls bedroom. That was a serious waiting game for them and one definitely spurred on by the added 'home time' we have gained. Decorating is not one of my favourite jobs! Everything seems to have come together and thank goodness - they like it!

The excitement on the estate has been brewing all week. The sounds in the air, the dust rising in the distance......tonight the combine harvester is cutting the fields surrounding the house. The waiting is over for the farmers, the crop is mature and luckily the weather conditions are right.

They dare to stand just two meters away from the buzzing blades!

I love to be in connection with the cycle of's exciting but also a blessing!

Yesterday, Small Boy and I dug up our first handful of potatoes. He's been helping in the garden since he was teeny weeny but still the excitement of planting the wrinkly tubers, watching and waiting for the leaves to develop and grow, the flowers to bloom and die and finally the actual physical act of unearthing the beautiful potatoes......It's amazing how the things we grow ourselves taste so much nicer than those we buy from the supermarket. It was a surprise also that the potatoes are pink! Again those little tubers are often just 'brown' in colour and of no specific significance, yet deep inside they know exactly what they will become. It's all just a waiting game!

When my best friend and soul mate left earth side almost four years ago, waiting was for me a time of healing. I knew that as the days, months passed I would once again be able to live a fairly normal life and that I would be okay.


We've been stripping the lavender this week. I love having pretty purple lavender growing in the garden, it's a real pleasure to brush past it and inhale its sweet relaxing scent. I enjoy watching the bees who visit too and listening to their soft therapeutic hum.
This years crop is almost ready to harvest. I always leave it until all of the flowers have gone over as even in the final stages the bees still visit.
Once cut on long stalks, I hang it somewhere warm to dry; usually in the kitchen or in the utility room. A year later we all help to strip the stalks and bag up the scent of loveliness for lavender bags or lavender shortbread mmmmm!

A special person gave me these delights last week. They didn't look that amazing in their tightly curled state but Wow! I never expected them to be so vibrant and gorgeous.

Whilst watching and waiting for a canal boat to arrive into the lock last weekend, we were thrilled to see a family of familiar faces driving the boat (not those in the picture!!). We hopped aboard, had a little chat and a short jaunt along the canal. A moment of adventure :-)

You know, that person was right about queues and waiting......since hearing that I've actually had some really fun times and engaged in some great conversations whilst waiting. Be open minded........

Right, time to extract my son from the piles of straw!!!! Perhaps I'll just wait and let him meander back on his own accord :-)

Monday, 17 August 2015

The innate traveller

I have this little urge to travel right now. Not sure why but something within seems very much drawn to explore. I don't think this is a long term something, my innate traveller seems to be saying 'a year' not even sure where? or how? It's just idea popping into my mind.

As a teenager I did have a little taste of 'life on the run'. I ventured off to the US to work on a Summer camp for eight weeks and then took off with two newly found friends for fun and adventures along the South coast of the USA for four weeks. It was a great time; free from exams, free from institutionalised education, free from parental guidance :-) Oh yeah! It was good!!

Ever since the Summer of '92, I've always had the desire (mainly in the Summer months) to just get up and go. This year has been no different to any other. Following our recent week at Hesfes in the cold and wet of Wales, I did develop 'Camper envy'. It was a funny sort of envy....I wasn't envious of the plastic moulded, finely decorated interior...more the thought of the element of freedom that such a vehicle allows. I've been drawn to horse boxes and beaten up buses...yeah I know, others think I'm crazy too! Narrow boats have crossed my mind too :-) but again not luxuriously fitted ones.

I'm putting my thoughts out there..........

I had actually planned to escape to the North this week. A little trip roughing it with the children in hobnobbed tents equipped only with the bare essentials, that was until the untimely breakage of my cars timing belt which has left me rather stranded in Ditchley. It's amazing how you feel like your on an island when you live in such a remote place; it has its disadvantages!

At the beginning of the season, I thought it would be a great plan to buy an old caravan (thinking rounded front - pre double glazing and pouffe seats) and to site it on a small site or even on a farm somewhere, so that we could just get in the car and escape for a couple of nights of adventure when we fancy. I was totally shocked by the amount that sites want just to have your vehicle stood there (nearly £2000 a year - shocking! Especially as I was hoping to pick up a van for around £500!!). So until someone kindly suggests a suitable place for a lot less money, that idea is out!!

I've looked at camper vans. There are some lovely ones out there but just not quite what I'm looking for and once you have one, there's the question of where you are going to store the beast? (when you're not out having wonderful adventures of course)!

So a car and tent trip it was to be; a little Northbound trip heading for the area slap bang in the middle of the Moors and Dales. I have been promising the children a day on the North Yorkshire Moors railway for several years now...yes, we've recently watched the Railway Children (and yes, I cried!!). I also long to view the beautiful sea of purple as the heather flowers....arrrr delight at the thought :-)
Oh well, fingers crossed that my wonderful father will have little Blueberry up and running around and perhaps, maybe.....we might be off next week.

Until then....

I am left caring once again for baby birds as my son's curiosity got the better of him and he poked a pigeons nest which came down with two rather ugly chicks in it! If anyone has read 'Boris the Vulture?' you will know the look I am referring too! How on earth that unattractive beak develops into the sleek sculpted feeding tool it becomes in adulthood, I do not know. Feeding them scrambled egg from tweezers is not my idea of a great pastime (especially not as they are covered with mites which seems to get into all the wrong places and they keep viciously pecking me!). If I had the use of a car I would take them to the rescue centre but until now my own efforts will have to do.

Hey you know what, sometimes being stuck on an island isn't too bad...things actually could be worse :-)

Ed note: A friend of mine is touring France right now and writing a lovely little blog about her adventures, do pay her a visit

Monday, 10 August 2015


I've been reading again.......
Way back during Lent when I decided to de-clutter my life, I came across a little book in Blackwell's bookshop appropriately named 'Stuffocation'. I jotted down the title back then as I had little time for extra 'stuff' or time to read but knew as some point I would try and navigate the pages to see what it had to say on the subject.

Well, back then my 'clear out' went pretty well and I shifted the 40 bags in 40 days (plus more) of unwanted junk that I challenged myself to remove. However, reminding myself of this I stood back at the beginning of the holidays and took a look at my house and some how, it seems....once again.... I am surrounded by THINGS. How could this be? Quite clearly, my good intentions have not  morphed....the storing habits of the children haven't helped!

'Stuffocation' has been a real eye-opener. It quite literally looks into how we have become a nation of people surrounded by such an excessive amount of belongings that we are literally being suffocated by them, they are taking over and consuming our lives. It seems that our problems may well have begun way back around the time of the Industrial Revolution when industry created a means of mass producing objects in less time. Mad Men and the advertising crew of the 1950's didn't help either where objects that were once built to last suddenly started to be replaced by objects that had a short lifespan and that needed replacing. The bottom line is related to money. People like having the latest new thing and companies need to keep profits up by creating items that need replacing and updating in order to keep the profits rolling in. I had always thought perhaps our need for things developed as a result of the war years when things were harder to get hold of. People held on to more 'just in case' they should need a spare.
The book goes on to look examine cases of people who have felt so suffocated by their belongings that they have got rid of virtually everything (tempting) and gone off to live in very remote areas living the simple life. In such cases, it seems that most do not stick out such a radical change in lifestyle for long (average of two years) before returning to their former ways.

The buying of 'stuff' does seem to only have short term benefits and doesn't necessarily lead to improved happiness. The new dress for a party never to be worn again, a fancy new bike to replace the old one that just needed a polish. What the book suggests is that the best type of investment is in experiences. Hearing friends talk about a new gadget is far less appealing then hearing someone talking about an amazing experience, plus the lasting memories are more valuable too.

So this week I've been head down once again trying to clear out further unwanted 'stuff'. The motivation has been that the children have swapped bedrooms and I have promised them a make over of sorts. So far the girls are being really rather ruthless in their clearing :-), the boy on the other hand is a different story. I've quite literally had to sneak stuff out when he hasn't been looking and be totally mindful of the fact that on several occasions he's been right behind me sneaking stuff back in again. Whilst trying to locate the TV control yesterday, the girls made the rather disturbing discovery of household rubbish being stored behind the sofa! Shock horror!!!
I was understandably mortified! His explanation.....he's been collecting things to build a space rocket!

The book I've been referring to is available from here or borrow it from the library so as not to add to your belongings!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Educational overview

I often find myself at the scrutiny of others for the choices I make especially with regards to diet, child rearing  and the main one; educational practice. I don't go out of my way to go against the 'norm' but I do go with what I believe to be right.

I am often told that I must be mad wanting my children at home all the time. To be completely honest that may well be the case. Perhaps I am mad! It isn't the easy option but it is the one that works for us.
I've been home educating for nine years now. What started off as one child out of the system for a year or so has become three children full out! I can honestly say that apart from in those first few months when I was finding my feet, deciding what to do and an approach that worked for us. I really haven't looked back. Not at all :-)

I love having my children around, I rise to the challenge of stimulating them and providing for their needs and most of all, I relish the fact that I have the opportunity to educate them and expose them to so many wonderful opportunities that schools couldn't possibly provide.

We're all in total 'holiday mode' right now....late nights, late mornings, relaxed days.....arrr blissful wonders! Apart from the annual 'clear up' of the past years educational stuff (which is filed away just in case we should one day feel the need to look back). We do very little during the Summer, it's fabulous! Life at its best!

In those early days, I was quite structured in my approach to educating but these days apart from Miss P who has started working quite seriously towards 'exam stuff' we're really rather relaxed and tend to be more autonomous. I have to admit that many years back when I first heard about autonomous learning I was very slightly horrified at the thought. You see, 'autonomous' quite literally means allowing the child to find their own way. In those early days I wasn't at all confident and had to follow the traditional system of ridged subjects that I myself had been subjected to as a child. It didn't occur to me that it was possible for someone to learn without actually being taught. Over the years I've witnessed first hand how this autonomous approach actually (dare I say it?) 'works!'
I don't suppose I even considered an autonomous approach until my disaster of 2011. Understandably, following such a traumatic event my head was in no clear space to think about anything other than survival and getting through each day. This became the pattern for well over a year until such a time when I was once more emotionally available and in a strong enough place to consider the educational needs of the children. I am grateful for our togetherness at that time, we needed each other at a time where in reality no one else could really help. Amazingly enough, although we did very little 'school' work, the children didn't regress but actually progressed. They learned a lot about death (not so cool) but also about each other.
On my journey so far I have encountered many children who have been autonomously educated and......have gone to university! Yes, it's don't have to go to school to make it to uni!

Last year I was fortunate enough to meet a lovely family with five children, all of whom were and are autonomously educated. They were amazing! Delightful children and a truly inspiring family. You can find out more about them here Christian Unschooling
Well after realizing that these children were actually okay and others I know who had traveled a similar path, I began to research the idea further. Last Summer everything seemed to be pointing towards an even more relaxed way of approaching learning. Structure was not welcome by my youngest two. They moaned and groaned when I suggested 'educational' activities and unless I (almost quite literally) tied them to the ground, they disappeared to escape the bore of the whole affair. I don't blame them. Can you imagine being forced to learn something that is of no real interest to you? We learn at our best when we are free to chose what we want. There is a 'right time' for most things; sometimes perhaps a little later than might be considered 'the norm' but nether the less if it is meant to be, it will.
This year at Hesfes; our wonderful home educators Summer festival, one of the many talks that took place was on the subject of autonomous education. I can honestly say that I was blown away and totally convinced by the approach. There on the stage sat around ten teenagers all very different in looks and all with a story to tell. One talked of a typical days as 'get up, play X box, go to bed'.....he's studying Physics and Economics at Uni and was incredibly funny, literate and intelligent and a totally charming and inspiring young man. Another young lady recalled the years her sister and her played with Sylvanian families probably way beyond the age that those exposed to peer pressure would use them as they lived in a remote area in France. Once again a knowledgeable and intelligent young lady. In fact, everyone of those young people very confidently sat there bombarded with questions and all very confidently answered. I felt so proud of each and every one of them :-)....does make you question the system!

Quote taken from The Natural Child Project:-
'Unschooling does not mean that parents can never teach anything to their children, or that children should learn about life entirely on their own without the help and guidance of their parents. Unschooling does not mean that parents give up active participation in the education and development of their children and simply hope that something good will happen. Finally, since many unschooling families have definite plans for college, unschooling does not even mean that children will never take a course in any kind of a school'.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Fresh outlook

It never ceases to amaze me how much we take for granted in  our daily lives; the things we have, the friends that surround us and our general feeling of safety and security.

We've just returned from our annual pilgrimage to HESFES our home ed festival which this year happened to be located in South Wales. There was much excitement in anticipation of this years festival as the site was literally located right next to a beautiful eight mile stretch of the softest sandiest beach you could imagine.
I work at the festival so intended to 'be there' regardless of the location, but many were drawn to the idea of the beach and the delights that brings. The event this year was an early sell out, however, no one could predicted the weather. I suppose I should be grateful in many ways; arrival day was perfect for tent pitching; the few days that followed were less impressive and to me more of a campers nightmare!



Having looked at the forecast ahead of time, I thought I was well prepared for all eventualities; and in many ways I suppose I was. I remembered our wellies and raincoats, I even thought ahead and planned a 'cooking station' as my tent isn't really suitable for cooking in.


The kids made willow lanterns which we carried around the site to the beat of drums.....


When you are there in the midst of things, you do the best you can under the circumstances. We wore our warm clothes many more times then we normally would. When the showers spit, go off mid flow and spurt freezing cold water at you, you learn that baby wipes work as a jolly decent alternative for washing your bits!
When you are freezing cold, you don't worry about what people think as you wander around in your rather funky odd hotch potch mix of clothing.
When you wake up in the morning and your tent is still standing, you are eternally grateful that you survived the night under shelter!


Final day 'tug of war'.

It wasn't all doom and gloom. We shared some wonderful time with friends and met some fantastic and truly inspiring people and we laughed and played as we always do. We went to the beach and felt the soft sand spill through our toes and the warm rays of sun on our skin; we even developed a warm glow to our faces!

Practicing circus skills 


What I realised upon our return home was how much we take things for granted. After the usual drudgery of unpacking and finding home again that concludes 'going away', we relaxed in our warm/hot bath and snuggled into our cosy beds happy (and fairly certain) in the knowledge that the shelter we call 'home' would still be there supporting us and protecting us in the morning :-)

Grubby feet!

Friendship :-)